Joe Cordina admits Edward Vazquez was better than he expected.

The IBF junior lightweight titlist from Wales had a much tougher-than-expected inaugural title defense against Fort Worth, Texas’ Vasquez last Saturday night at Casino de Monte Carlo Monte Carlo.  

After 12 rounds of back-and-forth action, Cordina won a narrow majority decision, with scorecards that read 116-112, 116-112, and 114-114.

“It wasn’t my best performance, but it still got the job done,” Cordina told BBC 5 Live Boxing. “He didn't hurt me at any point. Nothing was happening so I felt like I had to ignite something. It probably wasn't my best idea. Don't make excuses, you lost the fight, end of story. I beat two champions back-to-back, come on man, you need to give me my flowers.

“Subconsciously, it just felt like I wasn’t fighting all today. I’ve seen him fight, he’s awkward. He’s better than I thought. You can’t win a fight like that. Look at my face and look at his face, I've not got a mark on me. I'm happy. I got a win against a good fighter with a bad performance.”

Cordina (17-0, 9 KOs) won his IBF title originally in 2022 by scoring a sensational knockout of then titlist Kenichi in the second round. But Cordina was stripped of his title late that year due to an injury that prevented him from making a mandatory title defense against Shavkat Rakhimov. Tajikistan’s Rakhimov won the vacant belt by defeating Zelfa Barrett, which set up Cordina’s fight with Rakhimov this past April, which Cordina won by split decision to regain his title.  

A visibly disgusted Vazquez (15-2, 3 KOs) tried to stay positive during the post-fight interview but couldn’t help but feel aggrieved by the decision.

“You know what, I have strong faith, God put me here for a reason,” Vazquez said. “There’s no coincidences. I'll be back. Everyone watching knows I won. They did it to me again. You know what it is, I'll be back, man. Everyone in this building here, everyone watching around the world knows I won. Eddie Hearn knows I won. But guess what, they did it to me again. But they can't stop that Fort Worth kid.”

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.